Prophet of Zephaniah

Today, the Byzantine and the Latin Churches liturgically recalls the Prophet of Zephaniah. In Hebrew, the name means “Yahweh has concealed.” Zephania is known in biblical study as the ninth of twelve minor prophets (taken in literary order). The Latin Church remembers the Prophet as the one who inspired the hymn, Dies irae. The Prophet gave his message to Jerusalem to be united in their worship and faith in the true God otherwise face God’s judgement, “the Day of the Lord.”

The Prophecy of Zephaniah begins with great wrath – not for the faint-hearted! “I will completely sweep away all things from the face of the land …. Near is the great day of the Lord, near and very swiftly coming. The sound of the day of the Lord! Piercing – there a warrior shrieks! A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, a day of thick black clouds, A day of trumpet blasts and battle cries against fortified cities, against lofty battlements. (Zephaniah 1:1.14-16) But there is hope in his prophecy, hope for the humble who seek Jesus in the cave of Bethlehem, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:3)”

Zephaniah foretells that there will always be a faithful remnant, But I will leave as a remnant in your midst, a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:12) The remnant will be those who follow Jesus in all sincerity, “They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue. (Zephaniah 3:13)” These are the humble shepherds, the rich Magi, who come to seek the Lord, and those who repent to hear the voice of the forerunner. For their sake, Christmas is a feast of joy: Shout for joy, daughter Zion! sing joyfully, Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, daughter Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3:14) We sing “God is with us! on that day, and so Zephaniah confirms, “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior (3:17)”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras